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Maturing American women's field hockey team to take on the world Phillip Brents | Fri, Jul 27 2012 02:55 PM

The women’s field hockey competition at the 2012 London Games is scheduled from July 29 to Aug. 11. Twelve nations will compete.

Joining the United States are host Great Britain along with China, South Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Belgium, Japan and Argentina.

The top two teams from two six-team round-robin groups will advance to the tournament semifinals while the remainder of the field will play classification games to determine the final tournament rankings.

Medalists at the 2008 Beijing Games included the Netherlands (gold), China (silver) and Argentina (bronze). Germany finished fourth.

The United States defeated Australia to win the bronze medal in 1984. To date, that has been the only Olympic medal captured by the Americans since competition began in 1980.

The U.S. finished a disappointing eighth at the 2008 Beijing Games but booked its ticket to England last October by defeating then top-ranked Argentina at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The 16-member roster for the 2012 London Games features seven Olympic returners, including U.S. captain Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.). Thirteen players from the 2011 Pan Am Games team are on the London Olympics roster.

Among the Olympic newcomers are 22-year-old Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.), who was recently named U.S. Player of the Year, and 25-year-old Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, Va.), who leads the U.S. team in goal scoring.

 “One of the things that we have been able to achieve since Beijing is increasing the depth and ability of the entire squad,” U.S. coach Lee Bodimeade said in a statement released by the United States Olympic Committee. “We had 16 rookies at the Olympics in 2008 and now to have seven athletes with that experience on the Olympic Team puts us in a much better position heading to London.”

Team USA dominated a series of four test matches in Canada in late May, winning all four games and the series.

Another encouraging note, the Americans finished with one win, one loss and two ties in a four-game series of test matches June 18-24 in Virginia against Argentina, currently ranked second in the world.
These were the U.S. team’s final test matches before heading to London.

Chip shots

Team USA enters the London Games ranked 10th in the world. The Netherlands, Argentina and Germany occupy the top three positions in that order.

The Americans are grouped with Argentina, Germany, New Zealand (ranked sixth), Australia (ranked seventh) and South Africa (ranked 12th) for round-robin play.

“We have a tough pool but we actually welcome that and the challenge it brings,” Bodimeade said in the USOC release.

Olympic schedule
Team USA opens round-robin play on Sunday against Germany, followed by matches against Argentina (Tuesday, July 31), Australia (Thursday, Aug. 2),  New Zealand (Saturday, Aug. 4) and South Africa (Aug. 6). Placement games are Aug. 8-10.

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